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AMES — Iowa farmers should be on the lookout for new crops to grow, especially as a changing climate threatens to impact those crops, agriculture scientists said Friday at Iowa State University during a roundtable discussion that included U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.
However, the farmer on the panel noted there must be a market for any new crops.
“As you teach farmers to grow things better, you have to have a market. You have to be able to sell that (crop) to stay in business,” said Larry Sailer, an Iowa farmer and ambassador for the Farm Journal Foundation.
The points were part of the panel discussion on food security issues, co-hosted by the Farm Journal Foundation.
Some of the crops mentioned during the discussion included mung beans, which can be used to create an egg substitute, and millet, a grain that can be used in animal or human food.
According to the U.S. agriculture department, 870 million people globally do not have access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food.
In the United States in 2020, 1 in 10 households were not food secure, and 38.3 million people lived in food-insecure households, according to federal statistics.
Ernst said crop diversification also came up in her discussions with ag scientists earlier in the day
“They were talking about crop diversity, especially as we see changes in climate, certain areas and other crops that might be worth investing in in the future,” the Iowa Republican senator said after the event. “I think there are other ways our farmers can really tap into new and developing crops or things that might work better for the climate.”
The ISU scientists also highlighted how important it was to continue to receive funding so their research on farm practices and crop production can continue.
Ernst said it was instructive to hear that as federal lawmakers are prepared to construct the next farm bill, which will guide federal ag funding and policy for multiple years.
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